Here's to Love, Laughter and A Happily Ever After!

I can’t say I was totally enamoured when I asked to write a blog, it took me right back to being at college scrambling around writing buzz words on post-it's. So here goes....

For me, this past year has been a mixture of Disney movie classic moments of immense joy and magical happiness as well as scenes from Jaws... pulled in every direction, tears, fear, darkness and total carnage!

Here’s what a typical work day during the first lockdown looked like for me:

4.30am wake up - another night of not being able to switch off– just drifting off to sleep when I hear “mummy I need you”

6am: I can see my laptop sitting on my desk in the corner of our bedroom waving at me. I’ve been awake for hours anyway so I may as well log in and get an early start on things. My to do list is pages long

7am: It’s ok to eat a family sized bag of crisps, isn’t it? I need the energy

7.30am: I can’t believe I’ve eaten that bag of crisps... get your life in order

9.30am : First Zoom meeting of the day “Mummy do you not want to play with me” - mum guilt is off the chart

9.40am: “Mummy can I have a snack, when are you going to play with me”

Mum guilt -Wife guilt - pressure –tears- tired & feeling vulnerable

11am: I feel like I’ve achieved nothing so far

12.30: “Mummy why are you still on your laptop” Ok I could stop and play for 10 minutes but I’m conscious I need to create content and put together a video – this will take me the rest of the day

2.30pm: Still trying to answer emails, messages and phone calls. I am tired and frustrated at how long this video is taking to create. I haven’t even looked at anything else on my list. The asks just keep on coming! I would LOVE to tell everyone just to leave me alone for 10 minutes! Okay, now I have overwhelming guilt about feeling like this. I need food!

Anyway you get the gist!

As someone who has always prided themselves on their work ethic and the ability to seamlessly separate my worlds of work and home, this past year has felt suffocating. The pressures I put on myself daily to be the best mum to a preschooler (imagine every Disney princess rolled into one bundle of love), wife and employee was immense. I’ve always considered myself to be a resilient person, but this pandemic stretched me more than I could ever have imagined.

At the start of lockdown, I don’t think anyone realized that a year later we would still be separated from the ones we love and adjusting to our new “norm”, I didn’t. I thought “Oh well, working from home for a bit and without the dreaded traffic jams – this is going to be fun!” How wrong was I? Our roles changed overnight, adapting all our services to digital platforms within 36 hours and the demand for our services growing at an exponential rate.

Then there was the mum guilt… well that is a whole other ballpark that I wasn’t prepared for. I don’t think there were many evenings during the first lockdown where I wasn’t in tears. I felt like a complete failure, filled with guilt that I hadn't played enough/spent quality time with my little one (or husband) and it really impacted me. I felt suffocated. There was constant pressures and reminders of things I had to do. I dreaded hearing a phone or email notification – my stomach would drop. My to do list continued to grow at a rapid pace and I was still trying to figure out how to balance all the asks whilst supporting my colleagues, my family and myself. Needless to say putting my wellbeing first was not a priority. Shout out to everyone with little ones or big ones! Medals for everyone!

I remember lying in bed not being able to sleep and looking through social media – I know it’s the worst thing to do during the night, but I came across a quote “It’s ok to find positive change hard. The sun brings shadows too” It really struck a chord with me. I decided to have some pretty open discussions with my boss and colleagues, finding warmth, comfort and understanding. It’s amazing how much our shared struggles connect us further. A feeling that has been especially important during this pandemic. Fortunately, I got into a way or working that worked for me and my family. It was a process but something that I needed for my own wellbeing.

So, what am I looking forward to soon… well there is so many things? Like most people, I cannot wait to see and hug my family and friends. I won't ever take hug for granted again.

I never thought I would hear myself say this out loud, but I can't wait to walk back into the chaotic noise of STAR. You know that noise that is so loud you sometimes cannot hear yourself think? Well, I miss that, I am craving that noise that used to make me mutter things under my breathe a thousand times whilst working. The familiar and unfamiliar voices in our Drop-In. The warmth of our community members and the abundance of tea, coffee and biscuits. I look forward to work alongside my colleagues in a physical space where we can share our ideas and just look at one another and know what the other one is thinking or spend a few minutes chatting about something and before we know it, we’ve started the development of something new and exciting. Imagine a powerhouse of strong female heroes and outstanding volunteers... well that's them and I am lucky enough to work alongside these people daily at STAR. Not only are they creatively brilliant, they are also pretty cool people and the only ones who fully understand the impact of the last year at STAR. Not many people appreciate or have lived through all the early mornings, late night and weekends that’s the team worked to ensure we continue to be there for our community.

Anyway, here we are... What have I learned about myself? As difficult as this past year has been, I am proud of my capacity to recover and head out towards the other side feeling stronger and more equipped for any future obstacles that may arise. It’s also pretty liberating to say “no” to things. It’s ok to be selfish and put myself first. Turns out I love a good pun – who knew! I’ve developed new skills in areas that I hadn't really thought of before. I am a more compassionate and patient individual who 100% laughs and loves harder and more often than ever before. I can see and feel the light at the end of the tunnel!

Here’s to:

  • Being kinder to ourselves and others
  • Saying no and putting ourselves first
  • Celebrating one another
  • Remembering who was there to support, encourage & guide us
  • Continuing to adapt and challenge ourselves
  • Lighter thoughts
  • Small steps and progress
  • Improved wellbeing
  • Acknowledging how far we’ve come
  • Healing together

By Sam Roberts, Training & Development Coordinator

Updated: May 20, 2021